A deportee from Australia to New Zealand and Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon hugged at Parliament today after their pleas in support of a petition opposing Australia's deportation policy.

The deportee, Clive Paku, would not say what crime he had been charged with.

He said that while he had now rebuilt his life in New Zealand, his family unit had been destroyed and he had been deported without being able to defend the charges against him.

He joined Meng Foon in supporting a petition asking Parliament to raise the deportations issue during the United Nations universal periodic review of Australia this year.

Advertisement

Foon made a plea to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on behalf of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission: "We ask the Australian Government to be kind, and to be fair and to be good neighbours."

""We have fought in wars together, we play sports together, we trade… together and most recently our firefighters have gone to Australia to help our Australian brothers and sisters over there."

READ MORE:
The victims of Australia's deportation policy - they're Kiwis
National considers reciprocal deportations for convicted Australians
Deportations: Concern over review of Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal powers
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lashes Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison - the reaction

Clive Paku said he had been based on the Gold Coast and had lived in Australia for 12 years.

"I feel sorry for my kids and all my family in Australia," he said emotionally.

"I didn't get to see my kids for maybe three years. I was brought back to New Zealand, the last place I wanted to be.

"My backbone, my kids, my life was in Australia," he said. "I had built a good life, I had a good job, I had family that will support me so I can get back on my feet again but I didn't get the chance."

Asked what he had been charged with, he and Community Law chief executive Sue Moroney said they did not want to reveal that, because he had not been given a chance to clear his name in a trial.

Advertisement

He said six weeks after being charged, he was granted bail but was immediately sent to Villawood detention centre for about three months until being transferred to Christmas Island where he had studied as much as he could about the law.

He represented himself at the Australian Appeal Tribunal and got his visa back.

"Two minutes later I was cancelled again under a section 116. Prior to this I had no convictions at all," he said.

"The Australian Government was making out I was this sort of character fella when I had character references, I had references from my job to say I had a job back in the mines upon my release. That is what I expected when I was granted bail."

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon. Photo / Audrey Young
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon. Photo / Audrey Young

His family has split up. He has separated from his wife. Two of his children are living with her and one is with him.

He said the encouragement of his mother had got him through.

Advertisement

"I just put my head down, knuckled down and did what I did best and that was work to rebuild a foundation for my kids again to give them a home base."

He was now living in Masterton and had a good job and learned to love New Zealand again.

"As today I am living a great life. I have succeeded. To me I've won. I have my children. I have a secure job and I have a roof over my kids' heads."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the deportations policy in press conference with her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, in February, saying it was having a corrosive effect on the relationship and many of the deportees had been raised in Australia.

Paku does not fit that category.

However Meng Foon said Australia's deportations had a "strong race discrimination component and disproportionately affect Maori and Pacific people and other ethnic minorities."

Advertisement

"It undermines our attempt to build an inclusive society on this side of the Tasman."

He said the New Zealand Haman rights Commission shared concerns with the Australian Human Rights Commission about the risks from arbitrary detention during immigration review processing.

"New Zealand citizens who go through the Australian deportation process often wind up being punished over and over again, subject to double or treble jeopardy.

"They are returned to a country to which they have little or no connection to."

The average length of stay in an immigration detention centre in Australia was 496 days, compared with 12 days for Canada.

"This is huge human rights issue," he said. "The conditions in these detention centres are being used to force people to give up their rights to appeal and contest their visa cancellations."

Advertisement

More than 2000 New Zealanders have been deported from Australia on character grounds over the past five years.

Labour MP Louisa Wall hosted the event in the Beehive and accepted the petition.